Today is the Feast of the Assumption
On August 15, the Feast of the Assumption (The Assumption) is widely celebrated all over Christendom. This holy day marks the occasion of the Virgin Mary’s bodily ascent to heaven at the end of her life. In some places, the Assumption celebrations are accompanied by festivals, street processions, fireworks, pageantry and the blessing the summer harvest. The devoted light candles, attend masses, and pray for peace all over the world.
The Catholic Church teaches as dogma that the Virgin Mary “having completed the course of her earthly life, was assumed body and soul into heavenly glory.” This doctrine was dogmatically defined by Pope Pius XII on November 1, 1950, in the Apostolic Constitution Munificentissimus Deus, (The Most Bountiful God).
Munificentissimus Deus is the apostolic constitution defining ex cathedra the dogma of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It was the first ex-cathedra infallible statement since the official ruling on papal infallibility was made at the First Vatican Council.-
“for an encyclical to be infallible the Pope must speak ex cathedra
The declaration did not imply the belief in the Assumption was something new, as there is evidence of the belief as early as the 4th century in text that covers several different languages and a fairly wide geographical dispersion. Teaching of the Assumption of Mary became widespread across the Christian world, having been celebrated liturgically as early as the 5th century in the East. It was celebrated in the West under Pope Sergius I in the 8th century and Pope Leo IV then confirmed the feast as official.
In 1950 Pope Pius XII defined the Assumption as dogma for the Catholic Church.
Sola Scriptura was Martin Luther’s answer to the question of where the authentic teaching of Christ is found on Scripture alone, rejecting the Catholic Church’s belief that oral teachings of the Apostols transmitted by the Church (Tradition, literally, “the handing on” as also Sacred and Spirit-inspired,) as well as the dogmatic teachings of the Pope’s and councils. Given Sola Scritura, Luther decided to do away with priests, religious, most of the sacraments and the hierarchy. When he realized that there had to be an authority to settle disputes within the Lutheran community, he appealed to the local duke.
The word Assumption or dormition of Mary are not mentioned in the Bible. Assumption is based on a theological conclusion because of other indirect references to it in the Scriptures. For example, at the Annunciation (celebrated March 25th, nine months before December 25th), the Angel Gabriel declared Mary to be “full of Grace” and “God’s highly favored daughter.” (Lk 1:28) Mary conceived Jesus, the Son of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit as a consequence of accepting God’s plan for her. Further, when Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, who herself was pregnant with John the Baptist, she addressed Mary with the words, “Who am I that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:42) All these biblical statements led the Church to conclude that because of her role as Mother of the Messiah, Mary would be preserved from original sin and its consequences. Her freedom from sin was accomplished by reason of Jesus’ foreseen redemptive death on the cross. As such it would not be possible for Mary, whose womb carried the Son of God, to suffer the corruption of the body that all people experience after death.
In Munificentissimus Deus (item 39), Pope Pius XII pointed to the Book of Genesis (3:15) as scriptural support for the dogma in terms of Mary’s victory over sin and death as also reflected in 1 Corinthians 15:54: “then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.” In this passage Paul alludes to Genesis 3:15 (in addition to the primary reference of Psalms 8:6), where it is prophesied that the seed of the woman will crush Satan with his feet. Since, then, Jesus arose to Heaven to fulfill this prophecy, it follows that the woman would have a similar end, since she shared this enmity with Satan.
The pope also mentioned Psalm 132, a liturgical psalm commemorating the return of the Ark of God to Jerusalem and lamenting its subsequent loss. The second half of the psalm says that the loss will be recompensed in the New Covenant, and so it is hopefully prayed, “Arise, O Lord, into thy resting place: thou and the ark, which thou hast sanctified.” (v. 8) Since the Church sees this New Covenant ark in Mary, it understands that she was taken into Heaven in the same manner as the Lord – that is, body and soul.
Finally, he mentioned in the next paragraph “that woman clothed with the sun [Revelation 12:1–2] whom John the Apostle contemplated on the Island of Patmos” as support for the doctrine.